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FEATURE | Bundesliga Preview – Week 10: How will Bayern Munich respond to DFB Pokal humbling?

Matchday 10 is next up in the Bundesliga, and there is plenty of intriguing action to keep you busy over the weekend. But what should you look out for in particular? Below, we bring you five narratives to keep an eye on.

1 | How will Bayern Munich respond to Pokal humbling?

Given the way Bayern have dispatched almost all who have dared enter their path, their midweek defeat in the DFB Pokal to Borussia Mönchengladbach was surprising in itself. The 5-0 scoreline, however, was nothing short of astounding. Not only was it their heaviest defeat in German Cup history, but it was also their biggest loss since 1978 when they succumbed 7-1 to Fortuna Düsseldorf. Gladbach’s mauling of the Bavarians will go down in history.

Still, Bayern exiting the cup early on is perhaps not as shocking as it looks on the surface. They were knocked out in the second round by Holstein Kiel last year, after all, and, during their run of nine consecutive Bundesliga titles, four different sides have lifted Germany’s domestic knockout trophy.

Even a hammering as emphatic as the one handed out by the ‘Fohlen’ may not impact the title race too much. This weekend, they travel to Berlin to face Union, one of the division’s success stories over the past 15 months. The ‘Eisernern’ are unbeaten at home in the Bundesliga this campaign, having already hosted Bayer Leverkusen, Mönchengladbach, and Wolfsburg, and are currently fifth in the table, all of which makes them a dangerous proposition. However, Bayern are the leaders and, after their recent humiliation, have a point to prove – don’t bet against them doing so at the Alte Försterei.

2 | Florian Kohfeldt’s first game as Wolfsburg boss

After eight games in all competitions without a win and an embarrassing error that saw them kicked out of the Pokal despite beating Preußen Münster 2-0, Mark van Bommel was relieved of his duties by Wolfsburg. At the time of his appointment, whether he was the right man for the job was questioned, and it took less than three months to find out he wasn’t.

The Dutchman has been replaced by Florian Kohfeldt, who has not worked since being sacked as Werder Bremen boss towards the end of last season. His time with the ‘Werderaner’ was a mixed bag – in 2019, Bremen narrowly missed out on European football and Kohfeldt was voted German Manager of the Year, but only a relegation play-off victory in 2020 on away goals against Heidenheim kept Bremen in the Bundesliga. With Werder in the relegation zone last season after the 33rd matchday, the club and Kohfeldt parted ways, with their drop down to the second tier confirmed a week later.

That remains his only senior managerial role to date, making it hard to know what to expect from his time at Wolfsburg. At the Weserstadion, the 39-year-old showed his ability to work well with youngsters and, certainly early into that previous role, his side played on the front foot with plenty of attacking conviction. However, as soon as things went wrong, he could not stop the rot, and their fall from grace was dramatic.

Currently ninth in the Bundesliga, out of the Pokal and without a win in three Champions League group games, Wolfsburg’s campaign has been close to a total disaster. Kohfeldt’s reign kicks off at Leverkusen on Saturday, hardly the easiest of tasks, but he has no time to waste if he wants to save the club’s season.

3 | Changing objectives at Freiburg

Remarkably, Freiburg remain unbeaten in all competitions despite us almost being in November. Christian Streich has done a fantastic job of making Freiburg a Bundesliga regular in his ten years as the club’s manager, but rarely has his side been so consistent. They are the only team yet to taste defeat in this season’s Bundesliga as they sit in third place, while no side has conceded less than their six goals.

They have gone ten Bundesliga matches without defeat on just two previous occasions, and they have a chance to do so a third time if they avoid defeat against Fürth on Saturday. The ‘Breisgau Brasilianer’ enjoy the role of the underdog, but they will be firm favourites this weekend – with just one point to their name, Fürth are rock-bottom and already look a lost cause for top-tier survival.

No-one will want to admit it publicly, but this could be the start of a new dawn for Freiburg. They have recently moved into a brand-new stadium with state-of-the-art facilities and, over the past couple of campaigns, they have made steady progress. A win against Fürth would secure their top-four position for now ahead of a visit to Bayern before the international break, where their credentials will be put through the strongest of tests.

4 | Silva a problem for Frankfurt and Leipzig

This weekend’s clash between Eintracht Frankfurt and RB Leipzig throws up an intriguing narrative – the struggles of André Silva. The Portuguese striker has been a problem for both sides this campaign, despite him not having played for one of them.

It was from Frankfurt that Leipzig captured the 25-year-old during the summer transfer window. Last term, Silva was a revelation, netting 28 in the Bundesliga alone as Frankfurt narrowly missed out on Champions League football. As his replacement, the ‘Adler’ brought in Rafael Santos Borré on a free transfer from River Plate. It would be fair to say the Colombia international has found it hard to adapt – in 13 outings, he has found the back of the net just two times, with both strikes coming from the penalty spot.

While Frankfurt have struggled without him, Leipzig have looked poor with him. Silva has only fared slightly better than Santos Borré, netting three goals in 14 outings, although he has managed four assists. His problems are microcosmic of Leipzig’s issues – despite possessing a squad full of talent, Jesse Marsch and co find themselves eight points adrift of Bayern after just nine games. There is unlikely to be a better time for Silva to burst into life.

5 | Dardai sitting prettier

Despite Lars Windhorst’s millions, Hertha’s last three managers have failed to win three Bundesliga fixtures in a row. That emphatically shows just how much the ‘Alte Dame’ have struggled with the expectations they now have on their shoulders. However, after looking under intense pressure only a matter of weeks ago, Pál Dárdai has the chance to go where his trio of predecessors never could versus Hoffenheim this weekend.

In all competitions, at least, Hertha have already prevailed in their last three outings, with their Pokal victory over Münster in midweek succeedings wins against Frankfurt and Mönchengladbach. Following the latter’s Bayern masterclass, Hertha’s win against them looks even more impressive. The ‘Herthaner’ remain difficult to watch, but there is a doggedness and a determination about them that are integral to Dárdai’s philosophy.

To keep up their winning run, they must keep Andrej Kramarić quiet. With just one goal this campaign, he has taken up the role of provider, creating six strikes for his teammates. However, he enjoys playing against Hertha – his ten goals against the side from the Berlin capital is more than he has managed versus any other team, while he has never been on the losing side against them either. It may well be another battle for Hertha, but it is one Dárdai should relish.

Jon Radcliffe

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